Serpentine Birds

grebe diving

Twelve ring-necked parakeets join a wood pigeon pecking on the turf by Rotten Row in Hyde Park. A great-crested grebe dives on the Serpentine, a lake created for Queen Caroline in the 1730s. At the lake’s edge, a coot pecks at a bedraggled scrap of fabric that it has retrieved from deeper water, seeing off a rival that soon appears.


A moorhen stands breast deep, scrutinising the film of algae on the stonework at its feet, pecking down at some morsel. A flotilla of grey geese sail by in single file, heading up the lake.

carnationKings Cross to Wakefield

We get caught in a downpour after walking through Regent’s Park so head for a bus shelter at Great Portland Street and take the number 30 bus to Kings Cross. After lunch at Leon and a browse around Hatchard’s, I draw this carnation at a cafe table in front of the bookstore.

This ramp in a concrete building at Kings Cross reminded me of the false perspective in a de Chiricco painting.
This ramp in a concrete building at Kings Cross reminds me of the false perspective in a de Chirico painting.

There are almost as many people queuing up to be photographed pushing a shopping trolley into Platform 9¾ as there were waiting for trains.

Passengers at Kings Cross
Passengers at Kings Cross

On this overcast afternoon the greens of the trees have a late summer heaviness.

train sketchestrain sketchesAfter Hadley Wood station we plunge into a tunnel and then, before the next tunnel, there’s a short section, a shallow ‘hidden’ valley, with nothing but trees, hedges and slopes of ochre grasses. It’s a welcome relief after three days in the city, much as I like it.

Buddleia has colonised the ballast alongside the track on the approach to Peterborough. There are yellow daisy-like flowers on fleabane and pinkish trumpet flowers on the lesser bindweed.